In the thin strip of "wilderness" along the North Saskatchewan river from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan, approximately 60 kms as the river winds, there are a total of twelve golf courses, or an average of one golf course every 5 kms. Wild nature is already tenuous in this so called ribbon of green and is eroded even further by these destructive playgrounds for the wealthy.
Not only do golf courses destroy natural habitat by the tremendous amount of space they require but the pesticides and fertilizers used further pollute and poison the natural environment.
Going for a walk south, on the west side of the river across from Fort Edmonton, your nature path amongst aspen poplar, rose bushes, red osier dogwood, squirrels, hares, deer, hawks and garter snakes will be disrupted by a golf course. Impeding further advancement of you and stripping away the wild habitat.
If you walk south of Terwillegar Park on the east side of the river, then past the Anthony Henday bridge, suddenly you come upon a sign stating, "private property, no trespassing". Once again the rich person's playground has taken away what rightfully belongs to all...wild nature. (When I saw that sign I thought of the line form Jefferson Airplane's We Can Be Together, "All your private property is target for your enemy, and your enemy is we.")
It may seem upon first appearances that Edmonton's river valley is a vast swath of trees and wildlife; and going for a walk along some of the trails can indeed give the illusion of unspoiled nature, but it is just that...an illusion. For what isn't steep eroding cliffs (some with million dollar plus homes perched precariously atop them patiently awaiting their turn, like so many others before them, to succumb to the geological forces that shaped the valley) is really just a narrow, fragile band of green that is pushed to the brink by surrounding development and an ever expanding population demanding more and more space for itself.
In the battle between profit and exploitation versus wilderness protection, the dollar wins every time. And whatever a human desires, irrespective of the detrimental impact it may have on other creatures, his interests trump all others.
In southern British Columbia, there is a proposal on the table to make the South Okanagan-Similkameen region a national park to protect the fragile dry plateau desert ecology, but there is opposition to it coming from ranchers, wineries and other exploitative interests such as those who want to develop golf courses.
One rancher remarked he opposed the creation of a national park because it would mean that "his" cattle could not graze there. He went on to say, there needs to be a balance between the interests of the naturalists and the people in the area who make money off of the land.
I agree. A balance is what is needed. A balance implies fairness and a just, equal weight. Well right now there is a gross imbalance when it comes to money making ventures and the natural world. Pollution, global warming, entire species of plants and animals becoming extinct or pushed to the brink of extinction, all because mankind has tipped the scale in favor of himself at the expense of the other creatures he shares the planet with.
We are at a crucial point in our history, we may have even surpassed the tipping point, where natural, wild areas are being gobbled up and eaten away by private, monied interests so fast that right now all that remains are small pockets and slivers of what were once vast areas of an ecological and vibrant diversity of flora and fauna. And even these areas are not safe when surrounded on all sides by a human population that continues to push wild nature further and further into submission by causing more and more pollution, all in the name of making money.
What right do we have to kill other beings to serve our ends? It seems there are two kinds of beings in the world, us (humans) and them (all other living creatures) and any one of them that gets in the way of whatever it is we want or if we choose to enslave and kill them for profit, then we have taken it upon ourselves as our deluded right, where religion and the bible play a not insignificant role in our thinking (Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.), to treat them as though their interests do not matter.
If we do not have a consciousness raising and begin to treat other beings' interests as equal to our own, then whatever terrible fate awaits us is more than deserved. We can however change our attitude toward the natural world and the other beings we share the planet with and learn to live in harmony, respecting each individuals right just to be able to exist and be themselves, just as we would want for ourselves.